Governor Joe Manchin announced on Thursday, May 8, that he has approved the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s (WVDCH) project application for Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) assistance in the amount of a $200,000 grant toward the educational component of the new West Virginia State Museum. In doing so, the governor presented Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the WVDCH with a letter to that effect, which stipulates that an official notification will be made by the ARC.
Gov. Manchin is West Virginia’s commission member for the ARC, as are the governors of the other 12 states in the Appalachian Region. The region includes all of West Virginia and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Reid-Smith said, “With Governor Manchin’s approval, this grant from ARC will help us achieve our goal: to present an educational program that meets the 21st-century content standards and objectives for West Virginia schools. We are most grateful to the governor and the ARC for this generous gift which will mean so much to the citizens of the Mountain State, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”
The Division’s education staff is collaborating with the State Board of Education and its Regional Education Service Agencies (RESA) to ensure that the museum’s educational program will combine multiple disciplines and target all grade levels. A group of educators will convene to develop curriculum programs and materials for the initial Teachers Resource Kit and Curriculum Guide.
The new museum will have two education centers for use by teachers. A computer lab will provide access to a virtual museum, interactive research tools and hands-on learning activities. An audio-visual room will provide space with videos, movies, and more, to further interpret West Virginia’s rich history.
ARC is a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life. It was created in early 1965 by a broad bipartisan coalition of the U.S. Congress, which passed the legislation to address the persistent poverty and growing economic despair of the Appalachian Region. The legislation had the broad support of President John F. Kennedy, who initiated work on the project and President Lyndon B. Johnson who submitted it to Congress.
The West Virginia State Museum, located in the lower level of the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex for the past 32 years, is currently in the construction phase of renovation. The history of the state will be told in the new 23,000-square-foot museum through modern exhibits that will appeal to visitors of all ages. There will be a show path, which is a chronological journey of West Virginia history, using themed settings to highlight pivotal moments. Special effects, narration, first-person accounts, surround sound, and dynamic theater lighting will help visitors experience what it was like to be a West Virginian during the most important moments in the state’s history.
In addition, there will be discovery rooms to provide visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the history of West Virginia. The discovery rooms will feature artifacts, works of art, stories, music, and film clips. The connections rooms will allow visitors to dig deeper into West Virginia history and culture with computer stations, and provide facts about topics not covered in the show path and discovery rooms. The last scene as the visitor exits the museum will be a slide show of sites and tourist attractions in the state and a kiosk where they can access information about sites all around West Virginia. The new West Virginia State Museum is slated to open next year.
For more information about the renovation project or the ARC grant award, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner of the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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